Monthly Archives: March 2016

What does this ی at the end of the word mean?

One of the trickier things about reading Dari is not knowing what a ی suffix means, and how to read it. Depending on context سیبی could mean “an apple” or “apple-y” or it could be introducing a relative clause (“the apple that I ate”). And the pronunciation changes along with the meaning, so you’ve got to understand the sentence if you’re going to read it aloud. How can you figure it out? I’ve made this one-page flow chart, which you can print out and keep with your reading materials.

What does this ی at the end of the word mean?

Although I hope the flow chart will be helpful, it’s almost humorously complex. This highlights one of the interesting things about language, which is that although it’s possible to create these mechanical descriptions of grammar, that’s now how brains actually work. It’s not as though Dari speakers go through this flow chart mentally every time they see this suffix: they read the sentence and understand it immediately, considering all the possibilities at the same time, and discarding the nonsensical ones without a second thought.

Unfortunately if you’re a new reader that’s now how your brain works… yet! When we’re learning languages we need these scaffolding tools to get started. Eventually your brain will start working things out on its own, and you’ll be able to stop thinking about it explicitly. For now, tools like this can help you through it.

Great stories for language learning

This brief post is just to share a neat web site, which has a great little collection of short, short Persian stories. These are not “short stories” as in ten pages, but “short stories” as in one paragraph.

Story 01

Here is a taste, appropriate for Valentine’s Day:

پیر مرد از صدای خر و پف پیر زن هر شب شکایت داشت !
پیر زن هرگز نمی پذرفت…
شبی پیر مرد آن صدا را ضبط کرد که صبح حرفش را ثابت کند…
اما صبح پیر زن دیگر هرگز بیدار نشد…
و آن صدای ضبط شده لا لایی هر شب پیر مرد شـــد…

My translation:

A old man always complained about his wife’s snoring.

The old woman never accepted it.

One night the old man made a recording so that he could prove his point the next morning.

But the old woman never woke up.

And that recording has become the old man’s lullaby, every night.

(Go get a tissue if you need to, I’ll wait.)

There is a wealth of material out there for language learning, but finding them is always serendipitous. In this case, I saw a little story/parable on Facebook, and typed a phrase from it into Google. One of the results was this collection of stories.